YouBanC to support youth

BY: Emmanuel Bruce
Michael Asante (left), a student of the Opportunities Industralisation Centre Ghana  presenting a portrait to Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, during the event. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY
Michael Asante (left), a student of the Opportunities Industralisation Centre Ghana presenting a portrait to Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, during the event. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY

The government has put together a framework to provide direct support for the youth to enable them to create new businesses or expand existing ones.

Known as the YouBanC, the intervention will direct financial and technical support towards young entrepreneurs in the country.

YouBanC will simultaneously promote growth in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and support new ventures.

The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, who disclosed this last Friday, said the intervention, which would be launched next month, was a significant milestone in the race to create one million jobs under the Ghana CARES (Obaatan Pa) programme.

Interacting with the youth at the Springboard, Ghana CARES Youth

Dialogue programme at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Mr Ofori-Atta said the YouBanC would be launched after the presentation of the 2022 Budget.

The budget will be presented to Parliament next month.

Consequently, the 2022 Budget would continue to strengthen institutions such as the Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF), the National Entrepreneurship Innovation Programme (NEIP) and the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) to create entrepreneurship opportunities for the youth, the Finance Minister said.

How to access

“Applications for financial support, starter packs and training/mentoring schemes will be made through a centralised online portal and at dedicated GEA & NEIP business advisory centres and university campuses,” Mr Ofori-Atta noted.

He said key stakeholders had been consulted to inform the design of the scheme.

“The consultations have also been scaled up to technical experts to ensure that the project is well suited to identify and support viable enterprises,” he said.

“In the end, our objective as a government is to ensure that we can, through our interventions, tackle the unsettling feeling of uncertainty that exists across our young people,” he added.

Join us

Mr Ofori-Atta stressed that the government was rooted in its commitment to create one million jobs by leveraging the existing financial architecture and the government’s enterprise ecosystem to create opportunities for the youth.

He, therefore, charged the youth to support the government’s efforts at building an entrepreneurial state that was capable of providing the necessary jobs required in the country.

The Finance Minister urged the youth to work at establishing their own businesses to employ others, instead of waiting to be employed by the government after school.

Citing how he left a very well paid job in New York, United States of America (USA), to start his own business back in Ghana, he told the youth to strive to do great things, as there was no limit to what they could do.

Mr Ofori-Atta and his friends set up Databank, which later invested in other companies, such as the Enterprise Insurance Group and other ancillary businesses, that now form a large conglomerate.

He assured the youth that the government was willing and ready to support them to achieve their dreams.

Dialogue

The programme, which was on the theme: “Opportunities for Ghana’s youth under the Ghana-CARES Programme”, brought together hundreds of tertiary students, graduates and youth groups from the formal and the informal sectors.

The list of participating youth groups and institutions included the University of Ghana Business School, the Pentecost University College, UPSA, the Methodist University College, the Wisconsin University and the Academic City University.

Others are the National Service Personnel Association (NASPA), the Design & Technology Institute (DTI), the Tema Technical Institute, the YIEDIE Youth Association and the Opportunities Industrialisation Centre, Ghana (OICG).

The rest are the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI), the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET), the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the Artisans Association of Ghana (AAG) and the Mastercard Foundation.

Youth and opportunity

Also addressing the youth, a Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr John Kumah, pointed out that 6.6 million youth would enter the workforce by 2024.

With public sector jobs capped, he said, that required that the private sector stepped up its offerings.

He noted that a strong mismatch existed between available skill sets and employers’ demands, noting that over 50 per cent of tertiary degree enrolments occurred in fields with limited or no future growth.

“We must ensure our institutions are well placed to equip the youth to either pursue enterprise or enter the formal job market,” he stated.

500,000 jobs through NEIP

Dr Kumah, who is a former Coordinator of the NEIP, said the government’s approach to realising the one million jobs creation goal was centred on three pillars, namely, improving access to finance and market linkages for young entrepreneurs, revamping institutional arrangements, and skills development, entrepreneurial support and business advisory.

The Deputy Finance Minister said out of the one million jobs, the NEIP alone was expected to create 500,000 by 2024.

He said those jobs would be in agriculture (155,000), agro-processing (65,000), manufacturing (40,000), Information and Communications Technology (ICT) (30,000), health (20,000), tourism (80,000), supporting student businesses (30,000) and artisanal business (80,000).

The Executive Director of the Springboard Road Show Foundation, Mrs Comfort Ocran, for her part, said what began as a journey to teach and mentor the youth had blossomed into outcomes beyond the expectation of the initiators.

She said over the last 15 years, the Springboard Road Show had impacted the lives of millions of people over the country.

Mrs Ocran noted that last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation decided to introduce a new programme to support the youth who had been hit hard by the virus.

“Out of this disruption, we came up with the CORE programme to help the youth gain important hands-on skills and resilience to survive and thrive the pandemic. Young people all over the country developed new skills in industries, ranging from construction, real estate, make-up, engineering and carpentry, but something was missing, and that was the opportunity to practise what they have learnt,” she explained.

She said the government’s plan to create one million jobs, therefore, provided the perfect opportunity for the youth to practise what they had learnt.

“The Youth Dialogue series are, therefore, to give the youth the opportunity to engage the Finance Minister and his team and ask them all the questions about the one million jobs initiative,” Mrs Ocran explained.

The Vice-Chancellor of the UPSA, Prof. Abednego Okoe Amartey, for his part, told the youth that the dialogue, including meeting the minister and his team, was a rare opportunity and, therefore, urged them to take advantage of it.

He also reminded the youth that what they needed most for their businesses to thrive was “the right attitude”.